Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 July 2019
How many times have I noticed James Baldwin’s subtle yet quirky strut in Paris, Loèche-les-Bains, Istanbul, and Harlem? Documentary films illustrate how he moved through the world alone yet surrounded. Baldwin alone in Paris: eyes wide, alert, all-seeing of his surroundings; gait short, smooth, purposefully seeking a path; one hand slightly pulled from the torso, pepping him to the next step. Baldwin, the only blackness in a snowy covered and white populated Loèche-les-Bains: he, entangled in a throng of curious children; his glance over the shoulder; his trip in strange surroundings as some scatter and others follow. Baldwin in Istanbul: guided by friends yet walking amidst strangers; surveying nonplussed passersby; the trying-to-entice vendors who watch him glide by. Baldwin with family in Harlem: the teeth-peeking grin and gleam of the eye that shines; the encircling crowd enthusiastically propelling him within; the journey across cracks in Harlem streets and sidewalks and alleys to an apartment filled with even more loved ones.